Have you every marveled at the sight of a new American muscle car? Take the 2015 Dodge Challenger for example. With 375 horsepower and a V-8 Hemi engine you’d wonder how a design team could go wrong.
That is, until you sit inside the car. The interior of the car features bulbous plastic materials which look like toy parts compared to fine automobiles, and the ride of the Challenger feels heavy, obnoxiously large, and sloppy.
This is how I feel about the Adidas Ultra Boost running shoe which was released in December 2015.
After several months of attempting to run in this shoe I’ve decided that Adidas combined two of its most sought after materials, Boost midsole and their new prime knit upper, with a cheep plastic chassis and heel cup which feels sloppy and poor fitting.
While I’ll delve more into the details of why I now categorize the Ultra Boost as a lifestyle shoe, in line with Adidas’ even more ridiculous Yeezy Boost (designed with the not-so-stellar-athlete and overall ***** Kanye West), one would do best to simply wait for Adidas to fine tune the details on the second version of this shoe and possibly reduce inflated price of the shoe.
After all, this is a fine maker of running shoes that currently makes some of the best road shoes and racing flats in existence.
However, what follows is a fairly harsh criticism on what I consider to be a lot like a poorly designed American sports car with all the best intentions.
Adidas Ultra Boost General Info
Adidas releases the Ultra Boost as its premium road shoe blending the most Boost midsole cushioning in their line with their new primeknit upper material (similar to Nike’s Flyknit).
While the marriage of these two materials could work contextually, this is not the running shoe to spend $180 on.
Other premium trainers including Nike’s Vomero, Asic’s Nimbus, and Adidas’ own Glide Boost provide much better functional cushioning and fit.
When I first heard about the Ultra Boost, I was very excited about having a ton of Boost foam under my feet for easy days and long runs.
Unfortunately, Boost needs to be supported by a firmer EVA foam to really provide the responsive feel that Adidas lovers have come to expect.
Adidas Ultra Boost Sole Unit
Ahhhhh….Boost midsole material. What a wonderful thing for those indoctrinated runners willing to spend an extra thirty dollars or so to experience a fantastic ride that will last upwards of 700 miles in many cases (see Adios Boost, Glide Boost, Boston Boost).
However, can there be too much a good thing? While testing the Adidas Ultra Boost I found their claim of designing the “best running shoe ever” to be inflated and almost laughable at times.
One has to wonder, “Who wear-tested this shoe?”, and “Do the designers even run?”
Adidas released the Ultra Boost as a possible replacement for the only slightly more affordable Energy Boost which has gained popularity over the years.
The Energy Boost works great as a high mileage trainer due to the fact that the Boost Midsole is bolstered on top by a harder EVA foam which reduces the unstable feel of so much Boost material.
While the Boost midsole is absolutely fantastic, most Adidas running shoes apply it sparingly throughout the midsole to produce a firm and responsive cushioning that almost seems to improve with age.
With the Ultra Boost Adidas piles on a whopping 27mm of Boost midsole which is unsupported by any material of a higher durometer.
The effect is a fairly sloppy feel which Adidas tries to mitigate by placing a very shallow primeknit upper and essentially a plastic cage around the mid-foot and heel of the shoe.
Adidas uses a thin layer of Continental tire rubber on the outsole of the shoe to increase grip and to protect the Boost midsole.
However, after about fifty miles in the shoe the small convex contours of the outsole where worn down making the Ultra Boost lose a lot of traction.
As a big fan of Adidas shoes, this was the first time I’d experienced any durability issues with one of their Continental outsoles.
Adidas Ultra Boost Upper Info
Here is where the Ultra Boost struggles the most. While Adidas’ primeknit material is flashy and non-abrasive, it is also hot and constricting.
The particular knit across the forefoot of the Ultra Boost feels shallow and constricting which is rather different than the sloppy feel throughout the sock-like heel and mid-foot.
Adidas’ attempts to mitigate this by adding a TPU plastic cage thoughout the mid-foot and heel cup which dig into the foot, especially when laced tightly to attempt a secure fit.
The primeknit material also becomes water logged very easy and doesn’t shed dirt and mud well.
Adidas Ultra Boost Conclusions
If you were to survey a college cross country team, or an elite club team from around the country, you would talk to many runners logging 90-140 miles in their running shoes. In this crowd, the only thing that matters is a shoes fit and performance.
You can throw out the weekend warrior ideals of color ways and fancy materials, and you certainly won’t find any of these runners sporting the premium running shoe in the brand of their choice.
Why? Because these shoes are simply too much of a good thing, heavily-laden with bells and whistles, fancy graphics, and plastic crap which does nothing to enhance the performance of the shoe.
The Adidas Ultra Boost weighs 11.5 ounces for my men’s size 10 US, several ounces of which are unnecessary for the performance of the shoe.
The fit is sloppy in the heel and too tight in the toe box, and the increased Boost material lacks stability of any kind.
I do think that Adidas had the right ideas, however they are poorly executed.
Keep the Boost Midsole but buffer it with Adiprene that provides structure and responsiveness.
Keep the primeknit material but increase breathability and customize fit by only placing in areas around the toe box and fusing the rest of the shoe together with a more traditional mesh.
Please, for the love of all things holy, stop using the ridiculous roll cage of TPU plastic and return to the simple structural elegance of the three stripes logo employed in the Adizero line.
Adidas Ultra Boost Price Comparison
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